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Flying First Class to Hawaii with Lie Flat Seats Travel Guide 2017

flying-first-class-to-hawaii

Having lived in Hawaii since August of 2012, I’ve had the privilege to fly quite often to/from the islands with dozens of airlines to travel to Europe, Caribbean, mainland US, East Asia, and South Pacific. The airline travel market for Hawaii is quite unique and very much different than other high traffic routes around the world.

One of the main questions I get quite often is what kinds of premium cabin seats are available when flying first class to Hawaii?

Because Hawaii is a vacation destination, not surprisingly, airlines that fly aircraft to/from Hawaii will treat most passengers as leisure travelers. This also translates into sub-par cabin services compared to other long-haul international routes.

That being said, some airlines are catching on and providing upgraded premium cabin services and amenities trying to attract higher paying passengers to fly in comfort when traveling to Hawaii. The coveted type of premium cabin seating is lie-flat bed seats. These types of each can fully recline 180 degrees so that a person can lay down completely. Note that the lie-flat bed seats are different than the angle-flat seats (which usually lies down to approximately 160 to 170 degrees, but never fully 180), and different than the recliner seats which simply give more recline than economy seats.

Which U.S. based airlines have lie-flat bed seats to Hawaii?

The majority of domestic US / mainland routes to/from Hawaii on other airlines marketed as First Class only have the typical 2-2 first class set-up in single aisle aircraft (usually Boeing 737 and Airbus A320).

Alaska, Virgin America, Air Canada Rouge, Westjet, Allegiant, and along with obviously the US legacy carriers (United, Delta, American) all in their own respective ways, fly these single aisle aircraft to/from Hawaii. The first class cabins don’t really have much interesting or out of the ordinary aspects to bother going over in this airline comparison review roundup. The one exception might be the Virgin America first class cabin, with it’s modern seat, however, even their premium offer is not lie-flat bed seat.

The following U.S. based airlines provide lie-flat seat options:

Hawaiian Airlines Lie Flat Seats to Hawaii

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Photo above: Hawaiian Airlines “New” Business Class cabin on A330-200

Hawaiian Airlines first class seats to Hawaii started out as 18 recliner seats on their Airbus A330-200 aircraft. These first class seats while nice in appearance just did not compare to other US legacy carrier (Delta One and United BusinessFirst long-haul cabins) or internatonal airlines business/first class cabins.

Now, that has all changed since Hawaiian Airlines announced of their launch of new premium cabin seat set-up that is unique and not seen with any airline around the world. They teamed up with a California-based consultancy to design a cabin to include Hawaiian elements and natural outdoor feel such as the night-time constellations, earth, and ocean.

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Photo above: Hawaiian Airlines just recently as of November 2016 started selling premium cabin seats between JFK-HNL. The set-up they have caters more towards couples and honey-mooners.

The new premium cabins will be retrofitted into existing A330-200 aircrafts starting September 2016 and will take all through the entire year of 2017 to complete. There will still be 18 lie-flat bed seats on these aircraft. Below is example of the First Class pricing one-way between HNL – JFK:

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Photo above: Example pricing of Hawaiin Business/First cabin between JFK-HNL. Notice that they aren’t so cheap!

As of November 2016, Hawaiian Airlines will fly these lie-flat bed seats to between Japan and Hawaii, NYC and Hawaii, and select West Coast and Hawaii (for the West Coast, these short routes most likely will go towards the single aisle new Airbus A321neo when they get those deliveries sometime in 2018/2019 time period, a first for Hawaiian which has previously only operated two aisle A330s for flights outside of Hawaii).

I’ll be getting a chance to try the new Hawaiian Airlines lie-flat premium cabin seating in May 2017 so I’ll be giving a full review then. Stay tuned!

United Lie Flat Seats to Hawaii

Photo above: United First cabin on Boeing 767-400ER from EWR to HNL

United first class seats to Hawaii exist “consistently” on two long-haul routes. Those are from Newark (EWR) and D.C. (IAD) to Honolulu (HNL). On few select flights, United will also operate lie-flat seats to Hawaii from San Francisco, but be sure to check the seat map just to be sure your booking is on an United aircraft with lie-flat seats.

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Photo above: Seat map of United First cabin between EWR-HNL. Best United First seats would be the single middle seats for solo travelers and couples along the windows.

There are also long-haul flights from Chicago and Houston to Honolulu with the Boeing 777-200 aircraft, however, the first class seats on those routes are “extremely” sub-par, and are only recliner first class seats. Note that there is also no entertainment system. Don’t be fooled into purchasing these first class seats on these routes!

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Photo above: Example pricing of United First cabin between EWR-HNL

The aircraft that flies these lie-flat seats to Hawaii from EWR and DC is with Boeing 767-400ER. United markets these seats as First Class since it’s a domestic flight, but usually these seats are marketed as “BusinessFirst” on international routes. There are 39 lie-flat seats with an approximate seat pitch of 75″ and seat width of 21″.

I got the chance to try out United’s lie-flat seats on both a domestic leg (EWR to HNL) and on an international leg (HNL to NRT [Tokyo]). Both times, the lie-flat seats operated the same way, however, the business cabin structure was different and the food service was drastically different.

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Photo above: Food offered on the EWR to HNL flight. Pretty lame.

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Photo above: Food offered on the HNL – NRT flight. That’s only a Japanese appetizer course!

I will have a separate post that describes my thoughts on the comparison of United First EWR-HNL vs. BusinessFirst HNL-NRT experiences.

Delta Lie Flat Seats to Hawaii

Photo above: Delta One cabin on the A330-300 between ATL-HNL

Delta first class seats to Hawaii exist “consistently” is only from ATL (Atlanta) to HNL. The two other routes on a seasonal basis will have lie-flat seats is (MSP) Minneapolis and JFK. On occasion, Delta may fly their Delta One lie-flat product between LAX and HNL. Otherwise, some other routes such as Salt Lake City (SLC) to HNL flies simply angled-flat seats.

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Photo above: Seat map of Delta One cabin between ATL-HNL. The cabin is set-up in a way to cater towards mostly solo travelers with single seats along the windows.

The Delta One first class cabin when first introduced at the time was their brand new lie-flat premium cabin offering. The A330-300 aircraft that Delta flies between ATL and HNL has 34 lie-flat seats with seat pitch of 80″ and seat width of 21″.

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Photo above: Example pricing of Delta One cabin between ATL-HNL

American Lie Flat Seats to Hawaii

Photo above: American Airlines First cabin between DFW – HNL & OGG

American Airlines first class seats to Hawaii recently switched over to lie flat seats from the previous angled-flat seats.

american-first-cabin-layout

Photo above: Seat Map of American First cabin between DFW – HNL/OGG. Again, single seats along the window great for solo travelers and middle two seats great for couples.

The only city that American flies those lie-flat seats depart out of DFW (Dallas) to either HNL or OGG (Maui). The aircraft they fly is Boeing 767-300 with 28 angled-flat seats at seat pitch ranging from 60″ and seat width of 20″.

american-first-dfw-hnl-pricing

Photo above: Example pricing of American First cabin between DFW – HNL.

Which international airlines have lie flat bed seats to Hawaii?

Since Honolulu is the hub for Hawaiian and focus city for Delta (Delta One) and United (BusinessFirst), lie-flat seats are available internationally with all of these US airlines, particularly between the Japan and Hawaii markets. With Hawaiian Airlines completing it’s A330-200 premium cabins, they will most likely be redeployed on all of their international locations (with the possible exception of Pago Pago and Papeete routes as those are more leisure destinations).

Now onwards to the international airlines that have lie flat seats to Hawaii (and in no particular order):

Air New Zealand Lie Flat Seats to Hawaii and AKL (Auckland)

Photo above: Air New Zealand Business Premier cabin between AKL-HNL.

Aircraft: Boeing 787-9
Number of Flat Bed Seats: 18
Seat Pitch: 79-80″
Seat Width: 22.0″
Route: HNL – AKL

Photo above: Seat map of Air Zealand “Business Premier” cabin on the Boeing 787-9 between AKL-HNL

Qantas Lie Flat Seats to Hawaii and SYD (Sydney)

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Photo above: Qantas Businss cabin on Airbus A330-300 between SYD-HNL.

Aircraft: A330-300
Number of Flat Bed Seats: 23
Seat Pitch: 73″
Seat Width: 23″
Route: HNL – SYD

Photo above: Seat map of Qantas Business cabin between SYD-HNL.

Air China Lie Flat Seats to Hawaii and PEK (Beijing)

Aircraft: A330-300
Number of Flat Bed Seats: 30
Seat Pitch: 58″
Seat Width: 21″
Route: HNL – PEK

China Eastern Airlines Lie Flat Seats to Hawaii and PVG (Shanghai)

Aircraft: A330-200
Number of Flat Bed Seats: 30
Seat Pitch:58-78″
Seat Width: 20-21″
Route: HNL – PVG

Korean Air Lie Flat Seats to Hawaii and ICN (Seoul)

Aircraft: 747-400 (Many Variants)
Number of Flat Bed Seats: 10-12
Seat Pitch:  83″
Seat Width: 21.6″
Route: HNL – ICN

Philippines Airlines Lie Flat Seats to Hawaii and MNL (Manila)

Aircraft: A330-300
Number of Flat Bed Seats: 18
Seat Pitch: 60″
Seat Width: 21″
Route: HNL – MNL

The other international airlines that don’t have lie flat seats, but do have angle-flat or recliner seats:

Asiana Airlines Angle-Flat Seats to Hawaii and ICN (Seoul)

Aircraft: A330-300
Number of Angle-Flat Seats: 30
Seat Pitch: 58-60″
Seat Width: 26.5″
Route: HNL – ICN

China Airlines Angle-Flat Seats to Hawaii and TPE (Taipei)/ NRT

Aircraft: 747-400 or A330-300 (dependent on season)
Number of Angle-Flat Seats: 70 (On the 747) / 30 (On the 330)
Seat Pitch: 60-63″
Seat Width: 19-20″
Route: HNL – TPE/NRT

All Nippon Airways Recliner Seats to Hawaii and NRT/HND (Tokyo)

Aircraft: 767-300
Number of Recliner Seats: 30
Seat Pitch: 50-59″
Seat Width: 20-21.5″
Route: HNL – NRT/HND

Japan Airlines Recliner Seats to Hawaii and Various Japan Destinations

Aircraft: 767-300
Number of Recliner-Flat Seats: 30 – 42
Seat Pitch: 38-47″
Seat Width: 18.5-20″
Route: HNL – NRT/HND/KIX (Osaka)/NKM (Nagoya)

Fiji Airways Recliner Seats to Hawaii and NAN (Nadi)

Aircraft: 737-800
Number of Recliner-Flat Seats: 8
Seat Pitch: 48″
Seat Width: 21″
Route: HNL – NAN

Jetstar Recliner Seats to Hawaii and MEL (Melbourne)/ SYD

Aircraft: 787-8
Number of Recliner-Flat Seats: 21
Seat Pitch: 38″
Seat Width: 19″
Route: HNL – MEL/SYD


What are your experiences flying premium cabins to/from Hawaii?

Which of the airlines do YOU prefer to fly in First or Business class to Hawaii?




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